LSU struggled to put the game away, but in the end it continued its dominant run through Southeastern Conference play with a tough 83-79 victory on the road against Georgia on Saturday night.
Georgia forwards Nicolas Claxton and Rayshaun Hammonds once again gave the Tigers (21-4, 11-1 SEC) as they combined for 30 points.
The Bulldogs (10-15, 1-11) scored 30 points in the paint, likely higher than LSU coach Will Wade would have liked, but significantly better than the 44 points in the paint the Tigers allowed in the first meeting between the two teams.
Kavell Bigby-Williams came up with a game-clinching play for the second game in a row as he blocked a 3-point attempt by Jordan Harris in the final seconds of the game that kept LSU up by two possessions with three seconds left, effectively ending the contest.
Bigby-Williams finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds and made a number of great defensive plays, including three blocks, two of which came in the final minutes of the game.
Tremont Waters came out hot, scoring 16 points in the first half and finishing with a team-high 20 points to go along with 5 assists, two steals and only two turnovers.
Javonte Smart also had a great performance, shooting 6 for 10 from the field and 3 for 4 from the 3-point line for 19 points. He had a bit of a hiccup has his reputation for trash talk finally caught up with him as he got called for a technical foul seconds after hitting a 3-pointer that tied the game at 59 apiece with roughly 12 minutes remaining in the game.
Naz Reid had a slow start to the game, going scoreless in the first half. But he came out in the second half and returned to form as he finished the game with 13 pionts and seix rebounds. He also picked up a block and a steal.
Outside of Waters, LSU got off to a slow start offensively, but eventually found its footing and went on 17-2 run to take a 31-22 lead with 5:17 left in the first half.
Georgia didn’t go away, however, shooting in the closing minutes of the half and cutting that lead to just four points going into the break despite LSU shooting 17 for 28 (60.7 percent) from the field in the period.
The Bulldogs then came out strong in the second half, at one point hitting seven field goal attempts in a row to take a 58-53 lead with 13:54 remaining.
With Waters on the bench taking a break, Smart made his move, scoring 8 points in the span of three minutes with Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams adding some free throws to regain a lead the Tigers never relinquished.
The Tigers went on a quick 8-2 run going into the final media timeout to take an 80-73 lead with 3:20 left, a deficit that proved too big for Georgia to overcome.
The win capped off an exciting week for LSU basketball in which the program picked up a win against No. 5 Kentucky and thus kept control of its own destiny intact going into a week in which the Tigers will host Florida and No. 1 Tennessee.